I highly recommend two books ***GGG rating*** empowering for girls: Goddesses: the World of Myth and Magic and Princess Hyacinth (the Surprising Tale of a Girl who Floated)
Goddesses: the World of Myth and Magic– the illustrations are beautiful, the text for each goddess is concise and fascinatng. There are many goddesses featured that I had never heard of: young and old, short hair, long hair, all ethnicities, good and bad. They are all described in cool and original ways, even ones I was familar with I learned new things about. Both my daughters sat turning the pages, interested enough to give me an hour time to make dinner without disturbance (I’m talking TV/Sponge Bob absorption level.) Here’s the Amazon link if you want to learn more (I need to learn how to do these links)
Second recommedation, newly published: Princess Hyacinth (the Surprising Tale of a Girl who Floated)
Yes, she is a princess but this book is a great example of successfully appropriating classic female imagery and narrative, making it wonderful and powerful.
Princesss Hyacinth has a flowery name but not a flowery look. As a brown haired, brown eyed girl myself, I always appreciate when the star of a kids book has my (and my middle daughter) not so typically princessy coloring. This story is also great to explain narrative style to kids because it begins: “Princess Hyacinth had a problem.” (I tell my kids every story has a problem because creating that problem helps them focus when they tell their own stories, which otherwise tend to go on and on and on.) Hyacinth has a magical power– her problem is she floats, so her parents keep her inside and weigh her down with a heavy crown (which shows kids being a princess isn’t so great after all.) She has a crush on a boy who flies a kite, but she’s not sure if he likes her or not. One day, she’s outside and sees a bunch of baloons. She takes off her clothes, except for her royal underwear, and the baloon guy lets her float up, holding on to her with a string. He loses his grip, and she is off– somersaulting and flying about, having a great time. But her parenst are very worried, no one can find her or get her down. Suddenly, she is tangled up in the boy’s kite, and he reels her in. After that, every day she goes out and floats and every evening, the boy she loves reels her in; then they go to the palace together and have tea and popcorn. I look at this as a perfect fantasy/ metaphor for love and marriage (and one that men have written about in various ways in grown up books and actually created in the real world for ages); Hyacinth gets to go out on her own, flying and having adventures, but knows the boy she loves truly understands and appreciates her unique magical power; will always be able to find her and bring her safely home. Here’s the link to more info on Amazon.